Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Self Love

Roker leaned back in his chair, the old leather creaking comfortably beneath him. He had his arms folded behind his head and was staring contentedly into the inky blackness that filled the space between the stars. Crimson was hovering over the dash, studying him intently.

“It’s not like you don’t do it a hundred times a day,” the miniature woman insisted. “We just turn on the CamBot, maybe have you do a bit of a dance—”

“How long until the air shuts off?”

“Twenty-four hours.”

“Good. One more day and I’ll finally have some peace.”

Crimson narrowed her eyes.

“Keep in mind the payment may take some time to process, so you should probably be uploading in twenty-three hours,” she continued, resolutely ignoring him. “At the latest.”

“There’s still a chance I’ll get rescued.”

“Yes. Given that the nav computer is offline, you can’t recall your present co-ordinates, and you’re a few dozen light years from any respectable spaceway, you have roughly a one in forty-two thousand chance of encountering random traffic, which you would then have to convince to loan you five hundred bucks for unpaid bills.” She tapped her foot impatiently. “If you were to lie on your bunk, we can position the camera—”

She was interrupted by a sudden beeping sound. A green light flared to life on the dash.

“Mail!” Roker beamed. He leaned forward, tapping the glowing indicator. It vanished, transforming itself into a screen of text. “Hey, my first fan mail! Listen to this:

Dear Roker,

I just love “Ants and Coffee”. You’re a really cool guy. And your picture is hot. Where was it taken?

Your biggest fan,

Fnord Station

“I have a fan!”

Roker smiled cheerfully and began typing a reply.

“Hey Jon?” Crimson called, waving. “Remember me? Remember the video feed? Remember the lack of air that is going to asphyxiate you to death?”

He waved her off.

“Dear SexiGirl32. Ruform? Please send a photogr—”



“You sent that subspace mail to yourself this morning!”

Roker scowled.

“Sssht! I’m trying to start a fan thing here.”

Crimson gaped.

“Look,” he continued, as though explaining to a child, “if I pretend that I’m answering mail then maybe people will start sending me real mail to answer. It’s an audience participation thing.”

“I get it. What are you going to breathe tomorrow?”

“I’ll get rescued.”

“You’re not going to get rescued! You’ve got a snowball’s chance in a fusion core of being—”

There was another beeping, and a red light began to blink on the console. Roker continued typing.

“—a photograph and your vital statistics to The picture was taken on Sol 3. Your Coolest Captain, J. Roker.”

“Um… Jon?”

“Uh huh?”

“There’s, um, a ship approaching. They’re hailing you.”

“Cool,” Roker commented distractedly. With a deft tap of his finger he zapped his reply off into the subspace. “On-screen.”


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